***image1******image2***It was a “three-up-three-down” Memorial Day for Ramstein’s Lady Rams at the 415th Base Support Battalion’s 22nd Annual Yardbuster Softball Tournament held at the Kaiserslautern Army Depot Complex.
They played three games back-to-back to earn their three-peat as the Yardbuster women’s softball champions.
“The one thing my girls did well throughout the tournament was that every game they were able to hit with two outs,” said Lady Rams Coach Keith Baber. “I can’t even begin to tell you how many times we hit with two outs and kept producing runs. That’s a sign of a good team.”
Two of those Monday’s games were for the championship against their cross-town rivalries, Kaiserslautern’s Lady Panthers, which the Lady Rams played three times during this first softball tournament of the season.
“These were very good games. It’s always a good game between these two cross-town rivalries,” said Robert Bigelow, chief, 415th BSB Sports and Fitness branch, which hosted the four-day tournament. “There’s always a lot of competition, and both teams play real well.”
Both teams had a two-win-no-loss record in the double-elimination tournament when they first faced off Sunday in a game that Kaiserslautern has been working towards for at least three years. They defeated the Lady Rams, 10-8.
The two-run homer from shortstop Amy Hawkins in the top of the sixth gave the Lady Panthers the lead in what was a tied ball game, and they defended that lead keeping the Lady Rams scoreless in the bottom of the sixth. Then, time ran out, and the Lady Panthers had their first win over the “defending champs of everything.”
“This is my third year playing with K-Town, and we have lost against Ramstein every time we’ve played them until today,” said Connie Alvarez, Lady Panthers’ pitcher and left center outfielder. “It was awesome. The best feeling I’ve ever had.”
That feeling died on Championship Monday.
In the first of three games they would play that day, the Lady Rams sent Mannheim’s Lady Mustangs home with the third-place title, 18-2. Then, it was time to unpack “the power” and deal with their neighbors.
Both ball clubs are known for their defense, but it’s the Lady Rams who have the power. They have as many as five players who can smack that ball over the fence.
“We didn’t hit the ball. Ramstein hit the ball,” said Lady Panthers’ Coach, Edward Griffin. “They came out swinging.”
The Lady Rams conquered the double hitter, 14-5 and 20-9.
“The girls hit the ball well from top to bottom,” said Baber. “We are a power-house hitting team, but at the same time, when we need base hits, they produce base hits, but we do have power on this team.”
This power was showcased by the three-run homer by Lady Rams’ outfielder Ebony Howard in the fourth inning in the second championship game, which swung open the 7-7 tied gates, and the Lady Rams flooded the Lady Panthers with hits.
Lady Panthers had to settle for their house tournament’s runner-up title for the second year in a row, but this time, they did prove that they are the closest not only in distance but also in competition to the Lady Rams.
“The cross-town rivalry is definitely there,” said Baber. “And, K-Town is definitely a sound defensive team.”
The tournament’s Most Valuable Player was Lady Rams’ pitcher Mary Schmidt, who pitched every inning.
Lady Rams’ Mandy Ebert, Billie Baber and Howard were selected for the All Tournament Team, and selected from the Lady Panthers were Emily Murphy, Jen Francis and Hawkins.
Tournaments’ action doesn’t figure into the regular season league play. Lady Rams are currently 4-0, and Lady Panthers are 6-0. The cross-town rivalries have yet to meet in the regular season.
The cross-town rivalries will meet again in the Lady Rams’ house, at the 2004 European Invitational Softball Tournament June 18 to 20 at the Ramstein and Kapaun fields. The Lady Rams will be going for another three-peat.